No one is sure how many bullets were fired. Three is the official number. If you are going to stick with the lone gunman theory, It can’t be more than three, given the short time span between the first and third shot. Oswald – if he indeed was the lone gunman – would not have had time to load, aim and fire more than three (and even that is pushing it)
Only one bullet was ever officially found. (It is possible others were lost or moved by agents – who knows?) And of those, the so called magic bullet, turns out to be very controversial. It was “found” – reasons for quotation marks shortly to be explained – virtually undamaged and unused despite its alleged passage through two individuals, Kennedy and Texas governor John Connally, breaking various bones and penetrating various tissues.
But get this. There was more material of discarded metal in Connally’s body than there was missing matter on the bullet, named Commission Exhibit 399, CE399, which was virtually intact but for a small amount of material chipped away for FBI analysis. Chief pathologist James Humes said to the Warren Commission: “This missile is basically intact; its jacket appears to me to be intact, and I do not understand how it could possibly have left fragments in either of those locations. … I doubt if this missile would have left behind it any metallic fragments from its physical appearance at this time.”
The bullet was found on a hospital stretcher at Parkland hospital and that stretcher may have come from a another accident and emergency victim who was attending the hospital at the same time. The stretcher was situated in a hallway, unattended. And it would have been easy to plant a bullet there. Various Kennedy researchers have worked out that the stretchers used by Connally – fighting for his life – and Kennedy, already brain dead, but the doctors were still looking over him, were elsewhere than in the corridor. So it couldn’t have “fallen out” of one of the men’s bodies when they were lying on the stretcher – for the reason that it wasn’t their stretcher.
The FBI fired a bullet of the same make from the same rifle through the wrists of cadavers and the bullets were totally destroyed. Why was bullet CE399 not also destroyed? Dr Joseph Dolce, the senior expert in wound ballistics who performed the tests later said – ”The bullet could not have caused so much damage and remained virtually intact; one bullet striking the President’s neck, the Governor’s chest and wrist, should be badly deformed, as our experiments at the Edgewood Arsenal proved.”
Further, various sophisticated materials analysis trials have also failed to turn up a similarity between the fragments found in the men’s bodies and the CE399 bullet. The bullet and the bullet fragments allegedly from the bullet didn’t have the same chemical fingerprint of microimpurities. The technology was not known at the time of the Warren commission, but have since been conducted to a high standard by professional scientists.
The obvious conclusion was that CE399 had not gone through and wounded either man – and that it had been planted. And that the real wounding bulletsw – perhaps from another kind of weapon than the one Oswald allegedly used – had been found on the floor of the car (or something) and removed from sight. Two kinds of bullets would obviously prove two killers, and the Warren commission absolutely did not want that.
A planted unused bullet, and the disappearance of the real bullet(s), doesn’t prove anything if course. But it does hint at dirty tricks. The convenient thing about the CE399 bullet was that it could be proved to have been fired from a rifle found at the sixth floor of the Texas depository. As we shall see, there is no conclusive evidence Oswald handled that rifle on that day. His fingerprints were not on it. Later, after he was arrested, he was tested and he did not have telltale nitrate fragments in his face, chemicals tests: these normally very accurately tell if a man has been firing a weapon that day or not. He has never even been spotted – and this will surprise many – on the sixth floor around the time of the murder. There are timing problems that can’t account for his definite presence in the first floor cafeteria of the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building, two minutes after the guns shots, four floors down from the so called sixth floor sniper’s nest, sipping a coke. (He was a low level clerk at the TSBD.) Witnesses on the plaza point to other people answering to other descriptions were on the sixth floor – more about this later. But no one answering Oswald’s description.
The rifle found discarded on the sixth floor, a Mannlicher Carcano carbine – by some accounts another rifle altogether, namely a Mauser – was a shoddy construction from world war 2 that the Italians knew as the “humanitarian weapon” because it apparently always missed. When the FBI test fired it and adjusted the telescope sight they couldn’t get the cross-hairs to match (let alone do so three times in six seconds. )
What the rifle, model Mannlicher Carcano, undoubtedly did have going for it was that Oswald seemed to have ordered that very weapon from a mail order firm in Chicago under a pseudonym some months earlier. So was the fired bullet CE399 perhaps taken from the rifle by the conspirators in order to implicate Oswald – so to created a chain of connection between Oswald and the assassination, in the absence of anything else to it? Of course, there is the possibility that Oswald was implicated in some way – but that he did have the help of fellow conspirators.
As said, the undamaged bullet that supposedly caused seven wounds after penetrating two men is only one of the Warren Commission’s problems. Then there is the supposed flightpath of this single bullet would have had to take to cause these various wounds at various angles.
We will recall that the magic bullet theory was invented by Warren commission lawyer Arlen Specter to account for the fact that, under the three bullet theory – necessary for the lone gunman theory – you had to have one bullet go through two people. Obviously both Kennedy and Connally were hit. Initially the Warren commission proposed that they were hit by one bullet from Oswald’s carbine each. Then it came to public knowledge that a witness called James Tague was wounded in the cheek some distance away by debris from another shot. That was discovered a few months into the Warren commission’s work and suddenly the lawyers had one bullet to play with. So they had to have one bullet doing the job of both wounding Kennedy and Connally at the same time.
However. to account for all the wounds, the magic bullet had to make a very awkward journey, never seen before in the history of physics, critics point out. See diagram. And what a path!
Researcher Gerald McKnight writes thus:
“According to the Warren Report the missile hit JFK in the posterior neck, then without striking any hard object passed through the neck to exit at the front of his throat. It then entered Texas Governor John B. Connally’s back at the right arm pit, sliding along his fifth rib, demolishing four inches of the rib before it exited his chest below the right nipple. The bullet then allegedly struck and shattered the radius of the right wrist on the dorsal side, then exited at the base of his palm and hit his left thigh just about the knee. The Report then asserts that CE 399 travelled about three inches beneath the surface of the skin, hit the femur and deposited a lead fragment on the bone. Then, sometime later, with a spasm of reverse kinetic energy it spontaneously exited the hole in Connally’s thigh and neatly tucked itself under the mattress of a stretcher parked in a hallway of the Parkland Memorial Hospital that the Report asserted was linked to the wounded governor. There it rested calmly under the mattress waiting for its rendezvous with history.”
Either one accepts this convoluted theory, or one accepts that this may have been more than one gunman, who fired, between them, more than the three maximum shots a single sixth floor gunman could have managed in the time frame when Kennedy was in the kill zone. That the men were hit by a volley of separate bullets, a crossfire from different directions The bullets themselves were removed because they would point to a conspiracy, and replaced by one bullet, the CE399, which had seemingly not been fired in anger or wounded anyone, but had the merit of being tied to a rifle that Oswald had once purchased by mail order – a cheap old thing that was apparently found after the assassination lying around on the sixth floor – albeit without Oswald’s fingerprints.
What we have seen as that examination of the forensic evidence throws up huge questions, any one of which is sufficient to case severe doubt on Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman – or perhaps, going further, even as a gunman at all.